Artist: The Sex Pistols
Album: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
Release Year: 1977
*warning* There is a bit of swearing in this album review but I think the Sex Pistols would have wanted me to swear as often as possible.
This week I listened to the Sex Pistol’s Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols. Notice that Never Mind is not spelled Nevermind. An entire generation of 90s kids were mislead into using the misspelling thanks to Nirvana. Even though my example is trivial it illustrates the point that the right album coming along at the right time in the right place can influence an entire generation. Never Mind the Bollocks is absolutely one those albums. It’s cultural and musical impact are unlikely to ever be repeated. Some of it is because of timing, but there’s also the fact that some of what happened is straight up batshit flipping crazy.
If you don’t know who the Sex Pistols are, that’s okay. They were formed over 40 years ago. For those who were around when the Sex Pistols were formed, you’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older. And now you’re older still. My condolences. The Sex Pistols are a punk band out of London, England. Excuse me. That’s not right. A more accurate statement would be they are THE punk band out of London, England. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alive in 1975 and I’m not from the UK. I can’t give a firsthand account of the before and after of this album being released. I can tell you that reading about the Sex Pistols has been
interesting mind blowing and is worth your time a must read scenario. There is a Mount Everest worth of controversy created for a band that had broken up by 1978 after releasing their debut album in 1977. This combination of influence and controversy is what makes them incredibly fascinating even to this day.
I could spend this entire review talking about the band and their insane fuckery, but that’s not why you’re here. You came here for the music. Well I hope so. Otherwise, I should have written a biography instead of an album review.
- The energy of this album is simply amazing. The Sex Pistols crank it up to 11 the entire time. The beginning track, Holidays in the Sun, starts out with the sound of an army marching. Then the bass drum kicks: Boom. Boom. Boom. Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols’ drummer, is providing a metronome for the military. Then four monster strikes of the guitar by Steve Jones. Within seconds, you know you are in for some serious shit to hit the fan. These guys are not screwing around. You pumped? Oh hell yeah, you fucking are.
- Some people might not see punk music as having artistic value. My grandmother would probably call this album a bunch of rotten vicious noise. And she would be wrong. Very very wrong. Why? A multitude of reasons. But one that stuck out for me over and over while listening was the vocal phrasing for both the lead vocals and even the backup vocals. John Lydon is a music god on this album. He knows exactly when to drag a word out and which parts of the word to drag out. He often uses it to build up tension as the song progresses. Thus making it a perfect compliment to the rest of the instruments. But he can also shoot out vocals at a break neck speed thus ensuring the listener is never bored. I really don’t think this album would be as acclaimed as it is if it wasn’t for Lyndon’s masterful singing.
- Lyrical content is another strong point of this album. Obviously, the songs questioning authority and society are setting up the future punk ethos. It gets a bit more interesting when you start looking into all of the songs. One unexpectedly fascinating song is Bodies, which is an extremely graphic depiction of abortion. Many conservative groups have latched onto this song for its anti-abortion stance. Lyndon however contends it is neither pro-life or pro-choice (much like Ben Folds’ song, Brick, but with the word ‘fuck’ used quite a few more times). It’s more about capturing the emotions involved in song form than trying to take any kind of stance or convince somebody what their view should be. (I find that absolutely refreshing in today’s social climate) That’s art as fuck, right? Sex Pistols are far deeper than what your grandmother would have led you to believe.
- The energy of this album, while amazing, is completely overwhelming. I know what you are thinking. I’m just getting old. Well, guess what? I am! But the Sex Pistols felt overwhelming even in my junior year of college when I first gave them a serious listen during my pop punk phase when I was trying to find out where punk came from. This is a great album to listen to a couple tracks every once in a while to get yourself pumped up. The blitz style guitar work alone should do that just fine. However, even better, this is an album to sit down and listen to the record in one continuous sitting so you can fully appreciate it. What shouldn’t you do with this album? Listen to it on repeat for an entire week. Negan could have easily used this album to break Daryl on the Walking Dead. [ed. how long has this review been delayed?] Daryl might have been jamming to it in the beginning but eventually he would be begging for mercy.
This is isn’t an album for everyone but it is an album everyone should listen to because of the influence it has had on music and culture. I seriously do consider this a historic document of tremendous value because of the impact it had that still can be felt today. Never Mind the Bollocks is so incredibly well crafted and absolutely deserves any praise it gets. It’s never going to be in my regular rotation though. It’s too much for me.
This review is about 29 months overdue. The review before that was 12 months overdue. To those who have been patiently waiting for my next review, you are amazing. And I’m sorry everything fell apart. I will not continue listening to anymore albums on repeat for a week at a time . Whenever I’ve explained to people what I did for this site, I feel like I am explaining the ramblings of a mad man. I still want to write reviews in the future of albums that interest me for this site but not this way. It’s too much. In the past 29 months I have listened to tons of amazing music so I have no shortage of things to talk about.